[Just before this post went to press, word came in that the U.S. consulate in Libya has also been targeted by violent Muslim protesters. The linked article specifically mentions pastor Terry Jones’ “Judge Mohammed Day” as a motive for their actions.]
Egyptian Salafists broke into the compound of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo today. They tore down the American flag, ripped it up, and burned the pieces. Then they raised al-rāya — the Black Flag of Jihad — in its place.
Can anyone say “Tehran, 1979”?
The Muslim Brotherhood is another Salafist group, and is closely allied with other similar outfits, presumably including the group that conducted the operation at the embassy. This could not have occurred without at least the tacit approval of Mohammed Mursi’s government.
The Salafist protesters are described as “ultraconservative” by the news media. Does this mean that President Obama is promoting — horror of horrors! — Egyptian conservatives?
How could such a thing be?
Below is a video report from CNN with footage from late this afternoon, Egyptian time:
This amateur footage of protesters scaling the wall outside the embassy in Cairo was shot more recently, after dark. Many thanks to Vlad Tepes for uploading this video:
Some reports indicate that the righteous anger of the believers was aroused by this trailer for a movie about Mohammed.
The following story from Fox News explains what happens. The description of the black flag bearing the shahada shows that this is definitely a declaration of jihad by the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies in Egypt:
Egyptian Protesters Scale US Embassy Wall in Cairo
Main ultraconservative Islamist protesters climbed the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Egypt’s capital Tuesday and brought down the flag, replacing it with a black flag with an Islamic inscription to protest a video attacking Islam’s prophet, Muhammad.
Hundreds of protesters marched to the embassy in downtown Cairo, gathering outside its walls and chanting against the movie, which was reportedly produced in the United States.
“Say it, don’t fear: Their ambassador must leave,” the crowd chanted.
Dozens of protesters then scaled the embassy walls, went into the courtyard and took down the flag from a pole. They brought it back to the crowd outside, which tried to burn it, but failing that, tore it apart. The protesters on the wall then raised on the flagpole a black flag with the Muslim declaration of faith on it, “There is no god but God and Muhammad is his prophet.”
The flag, similar to the banner used by al-Qaida, is commonly used by ultraconservatives around the region. Almost all the embassy staff had left the compound before the protest, and the ambassador was out of town.
The protest was sparked by outrage over a video being promoted by an extreme anti-Muslim Egyptian Christian campaigner in the U.S., clips of which are available on the social website YouTube and dubbed in Egyptian Arabic. The video depicts Muhammad as a fraud, showing him having sex and calling for massacres. Muslims find it offensive to depict Muhammad in any fashion, much less in an insulting way.
By evening, the protest grew with thousands standing outside the embassy, chanting “Islamic, Islamic. The right of our prophet will not die.” A group of women in black veils and robes that left only their eyes exposed chanted, “Worshippers of the Cross, leave the Prophet Muhammad alone.”
Dozens of riot police lined up along the embassy walls. They did not stop protesters who continued to climb up the wall and stand on it, chanting. But it appeared they were no longer going into the embassy compound.
One young member of the ultraconservative Salafi movement, Abdel-Hamid Ibrahim said, “This is a very simple reaction to harming our prophet.”
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the U.S. was working with Egyptian authorities to try to restore order.
Only a few staff members were still inside, as embassy security had sent most staff home early after learning of the upcoming protest, a U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
It was not exactly clear who made the video that angered the protesters.
Morris Sadek, an Egyptian-born Christian in the U.S. known for his anti-Islam views, told The Associated Press from Washington that he was promoting the video on his website and on certain TV stations, which he did not identify.
He said the video “explains the problems of the Copts who suffer from Muslims,” which he blamed on the Quran itself.
For several days, Egyptian media have been reporting on the video, playing some excerpts from it and blaming Sadek for it, with ultraconservative clerics going on air to denounce it.
Medhat Klada, a representative of Coptic Christian organizations in Europe, said Sadek’s views are not representative of expatriate Copts.
“He is an extremist … We don’t go down this road. He has incited the people (in Egypt) against Copts,” he said, speaking from Switzerland. “We refuse any attacks on religions because of a moral position.”
But he said he was concerned about the backlash from angry Islamists. “They don’t know dialogue and they think that Islam will be offended from a movie.”
The embassy is located in a diplomatic area in Garden city, where the British and Italian embassies are located, only a few blocks away from Tahrir Square, the center of last year’s uprising that led to the ouster of Hosni Mubarak. The U.S. Embassy is built like a fortress, with a wall several yards high. But security has been scaled back in recent months, with several roadblocks leading to the facility removed after legal court cases by residents complaining their access to nearby streets was blocked.
In a similar dhimmi fashion, the United States embassy condemned not the protesters’ actions, but rather the speech that had offended them. According to this report from CNBC, the embassy says criticism of Islam is an “abuse” of the right to speak freely:
A U.S. embassy official had no immediate comment on the protesters’ actions but the embassy had put out a statement earlier on Tuesday condemning those who hurt the religious feelings of Muslims or followers of any other religions.
“We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others,” the U.S. embassy said in its statement.
“Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy,” the U.S. embassy statement said, adding that it condemned the efforts by “misguided individuals” to hurt the feelings of Muslims.
Back in 1979, the Carter administration approved of the Ayatollah Khomeini for months after the overthrow of the Shah, until the press of events forced a change of opinion upon our first dhimmi president.
How far do you think the Obama administration will go with its own sweetheart, the Muslim Brotherhood?
Maybe all the way?